HL Deb 21 May 1957 vol 203 cc1006-7

2.58 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, whether they received any approach from the Japanese Government as a result of Mr. Bulganin's offer in March to the director of the Japanese Council for the prohibition of atomic and hydrogen bombs to support a campaign for the suspension of the test of the British hydrogen bomb; whether the Soviet series of hydrogen bomb tests continued immediately after Mr. Bulganin's offer was made; whether the Japanese atmosphere became contaminated by these explosions; and what measures the Soviet Government has taken in order to preserve the life and health of its Siberian citizens and of the citizens of other countries who live within the danger zone of their present series of explosions.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government received no approach from the Japanese Government as a result of Mr. Bulganin's offer of support for a campaign for the suspension of the test of the British hydrogen bomb. Subsequent to Mr. Bulganin's message, the Soviet Government held at least five unannounced nuclear tests in April. I have no doubt that these tests resulted in increased radio-activity over Japan, although not necessarily in dangerous quantities.

Her Majesty's Government have, unfortunately, no knowledge of any safety precautions taken by the Soviet Government, who have not admitted either to us or even to their own people that the tests took place. It may be relevant that during this recent series of Soviet nuclear weapon tests explosions travel by Western visitors to Soviet Central Asia was forbidden. Though, on the face of it, it seems likely that some evacuation must have taken place in the neighbourhood of the Soviet testing ground, Her Majesty's Government are not in a position to make a definite statement one way or the other.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his full Answer to my Question. Is it not evident, from the information which the noble Earl has been kind enough to give me this afternoon—and which the noble Earl, the Leader of the House gave me about ten days ago—that the Government of the U.S.S.R. has set the pace in the development of the hydrogen bomb, and that the efforts which they are making by devious channels to bring pressure to bear upon Her Majesty's Government to stop the development of the British bomb are animated not by humanitarian ideals but by a desire to maintain, so far as possible, the belligerent advantage which their lead in hydrogen bomb development has so far given them?


My Lords, I entirely agree with every word the noble Viscount has spoken.